dog ears Tummy Tuck

‘Dog Ears’ After a Tummy Tuck

Table of Contents

Although the term evokes images of parts of an adorable household pet, ‘dog ears’ are an undesirable side effect that sometimes occurs after wounds are surgically closed. Although dog ears can happen after any surgery, they are found most often after a tummy tuck procedure in the world of cosmetic surgery.

What causes dog ears after a tummy tuck?

‘Dog ears’ refers to protruding skin found at either end of a sealed incision. When in the context of plastic surgery, dog ears most commonly occur in procedures involving skin tightening and the formation of what are known as elliptical incisions typically used in a tummy tuck.

The tummy tuck procedure involves the removal of excess and sagging skin following extreme weight loss, such as after pregnancy. It also helps tighten loose abdominal muscles that have become separated during events like pregnancy.

The chance of a patient developing a dog ear depends on the incision made during the tummy tuck procedure. Some factors that influence the development of dog ears include the placement, length, and shape of the incisions.

Incision Length

In most cases, dog ears develop because of shortened incisions formed during the performance of a tummy tuck procedure. Since these shorter incisions are more difficult to close with sutures, the skin tends to become folded and protrude at either end.

Placement of Incision

The surgical incision location can cause dog ears, but it also impacts the cut length. Suppose the surgeon places the incision lower down on the abdomen, such as with a mini tummy tuck procedure. In that case, a shorter incision is required because the pubic area is smaller than the upper abdomen. So when the incision is closed, the skin tends to bend and fold, causing the dog ears appearance.

Shape of Incision

The shape of the incision used in a tummy tuck is elliptical, meaning that it runs across the lower abdomen from hip to hip. This unconventional type of incision can be difficult to close using sutures, as the wound’s edges can be misaligned. This can cause the scrunching up of skin, leading to dog ears at the ends of the sealed incision.

Skin Quality

Another factor that can lead to dog ears developing after a tummy tuck. Certain factors involved in skin aging can cause the skin to loosen, leading to a breakdown of two skin components called collagen and elastin. These are connective tissues that help to support skin and provide elasticity. This can result in loose skin wrinkling at the end of the incision when sutures are used in a tummy tuck procedure.

How much does it cost to have dog ears removed after a tummy tuck?

Every plastic surgeon is different when pricing the removal of dog ears after a tummy tuck procedure. You would need to meet with your surgeon in a consultation to determine what they would charge for this procedure.

How can dog ears be prevented?

There is no way of knowing who is likely to develop dog ears after a tummy tuck procedure or any other type of surgery. Many plastic surgeons advise their patients to wait a few months after a tummy tuck so that they have time for proper healing of their incision to see if dog ears will form.

Although there is no way of determining if a given patient will develop dog ears, there are some ways to lower the odds of developing them, including:

Hiring a Skilled Surgeon

Relying upon the expertise and skill of your plastic surgeon is important in lowering the odds of developing dog ears after your tummy tuck. Although scars involve getting a tummy tuck, if your surgeon places them properly in a skilled manner, the resulting scar should be improved within six to 18 months.

Be sure that you go over your expectations and desires with your surgeon, including discussing the possibility of scars. This will give your surgeon a better idea of forming your incisions appropriately.

Maintain Healthy Skin

The condition that your skin is in when you undergo your tummy tuck will go a long way in determining the area’s appearance after your procedure. So keep up with a good skincare regimen at home so that you maintain as much skin elasticity as possible, reducing the chances of developing dog ears after your tummy tuck.

Realistic Expectations

It is crucial to have realistic expectations before going into any cosmetic procedure. It would be best to understand that there is always a risk of complications following surgery. But if you choose a skilled and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, you will obtain the best results so that you can once again take pride in your body with more youthful and sensual contours.

Dr. John E. Nees, MD

Dr. John E. Nees, MD

Medically reviewed by
Dr. John E. Nees, MD specializes in aesthetic plastic surgery in Miami, FL


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